Herzog & de Meuron is a Pritzker award-winning Swiss architecture firm established in Basel in 1978 with additional offices in London, New York, Hong Kong, Berlin and Copenhagen. It is a partnership led by Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron- both have a similar architectural style that uses organic forms that fits the natural surroundings. The firm has worked on a broad range of projects from small scale private homes to large scale urban designs. The way of expressing themselves through materiality is something that reflects in all of their projects.

1) 56 Leonard Street

Location: New York, New York, USA
Year: 2017

The project sought to create a high-rise residential tower, despite its size, has a character that is unique and personal, perhaps even has an intimate ambiance. Residential skyscrapers are successful in producing the unit, but often fail to improve upon the living environment. 56 Leonard Street acts against this monotony and anonymity. It is a stack of individual houses, where each one is unprecedented and identifiable within the overall stack. At the base, the staggered tower corresponds to the local conditions of the street while the top undulates and merges with the sky. In-between, the staggering and shifting of floor slabs in the middle-levels, like in a column shaft, is subtle.

56 Leonard Street - Sheet1
56 Leonard Street ©Iwan Baan
56 Leonard Street - Sheet2
56 Leonard Street ©Iwan Baan
56 Leonard Street - Sheet3
56 Leonard Street ©Iwan Baan

 2) 1200 Bay Street

Location: Toronto, Canada
Year: 2020

1200 Bay Street is an 87-storey (324m high) mixed-use building that will rise above the city center. After completion, it would be the tallest skyscraper in Canada. The first 16 floors of the tower will cater to retail, office, and technical functions with 64 condominium levels above separated by a private amenities floor. The topmost three floors comprise a large restaurant, sky lounge, and other rentable spaces, that offer picturesque views over the city. The structural core is on the western facade to provide privacy from neighboring buildings. The building has a 3:1 construction ratio, meaning that the length of its site is approximately three times that of its width. It is because of these slender proportions that give way to the description of it being a super tall and skinny skyscraper.

1200 Bay Street - Sheet1
1200 Bay Street ©Herzog & de Meuron
1200 Bay Street2
1200 Bay Street ©Herzog & de Meuron
1200 Bay Street3
1200 Bay Street ©Herzog & de Meuron

3)  Meret Oppenheim Hochhaus Building

Location: Basel, Switzerland
Year: Project 2013-2015, realization 2015-2018

Herzog & de Meuron, in 2002, won the competition for Südpark, a development organized by SBB (Switzerland national railway company) to develop two of its plots situated to the south of the station. The two projects help to establish the northern edge of the neighborhood, Gundeldinger Quarter, which has become a vibrant area of active street life. The site which was underutilized earlier has now developed in the last years. It contributes to the diversification of urban centers around the main stations of Basel, Zurich, Lucerne, and other cities.

Meret Oppenheim Hochhaus Building - Sheet1
Meret Oppenheim Hochhaus Building ©Robert Hösl

“The form of the tower is the result of stacking volumes of different sizes. The process of stacking underwent various phases where we tested how the resulting proportions, dimensions and functions would fit with the urbanistic and programmatic expectations and requirements”, says Herzog and de Meuron.

Folding and sliding shutter systems are used for cladding on the facade that encloses a balcony layer on all sides of the building. 

“This transitional space introduces a filter between the individual residences and the city, allowing views from interior to exterior, and a shifting transparency from exterior to interior,” says Herzog & de Meuron.

Meret Oppenheim Hochhaus Building - Sheet2
Meret Oppenheim Hochhaus Building ©Adriano A. Biondo
Meret Oppenheim Hochhaus Building - Sheet3
Meret Oppenheim Hochhaus Building ©Robert Hösl

4) Messe Basel New Hall

Location: Basel, Switzerland
Year: 2004-2012, realization 2010-2013

The parametric facade of the twisting bands is such that it accentuates the scale of the large exhibition volume. It is not an ornamental element but an efficient means to articulate the fall of natural light on adjacent properties and to frame particular views from unique locations.

There are three exhibition levels featured in the New Hall. The entrance level, the lowest, is at elevation with the street and outdoor square, permitting a natural flow. Ground floor entry seamlessly links the City Lounge to the existing Hall 1, former Hall 3, the new event space for 2,500 spectators, and several shops, bars and restaurants in the foyers. A large expanse of glass is to create spatial transparency to produce the openness envisioned for the exhibition hall and the vivifying of public urban life. 

It becomes a paradox, by applying an analogous material (aluminium) over all exterior surfaces, it creates a constant architectural variation and an impression of a basket weave. This glazing leads into a ground floor entryway filled with various shops, bars and restaurants.

Messe Basel New Hall - Sheet1
Messe Basel New Hall ©Messe Basel
Messe Basel New Hall - Sheet2
Messe Basel New Hall ©Hufton + Crow
Messe Basel New Hall - Sheet3
Messe Basel New Hall ©Hufton + Crow

5) Tai Kwun, Centre for Heritage and Art

Location: Hong Kong (SAR)
Year: 2018

The Tai Kwun art and heritage center is reflective of Hong Kong Island’s mountainous terrain spanning 27,000 square meters across a sloping site. Established by the British after 1841 as the police station, magistracy, and prison, Tai Kwun is the largest heritage conservation project in Hong Kong.

“What we have done in Hong Kong is to transform a former police station into a cultural center,” said Herzog & de Meuron. “In Hong Kong and also in Mainland China this is still a new approach to architecture – an unusual thing to do because normally old buildings and entire neighborhoods are being removed and replaced by new ones.”

The main intention of the project was to preserve the openness and discrete character and to re-activate them for public use as new urban spaces that determine the site as a place of respite. The new building volume copies neither of the historical past but forms a new relationship to the site.

Tai Kwun, Centre for Heritage and Art - Sheet1
Tai Kwun ©Iwan Baan
Tai Kwun, Centre for Heritage and Art - Sheet2
Tai Kwun ©Iwan Baan
Tai Kwun, Centre for Heritage and Art - Sheet3
Tai Kwun ©Iwan Baan

6) BBVA Headquarters 

Location: Madrid, Spain
Year: 2015

The site for the BBVA Headquarters has newly built offices, commercial buildings, and residential developments encompassing it. Like a carpet, analogous to an Arabian garden, A linear three-story structure is over the entire site with courtyards, passages and irrigated gardens which has a slope. 

The project’s aim was to create an inward-looking retreat in the urban landscape and a place that balances the natural and the built context.

The architecture is raw and prominently manifested. The design has an influence on solar conditions, which produces a southern type of architecture. To minimize artificial lighting and provide daylight conditions in offices, full height, recessed glazing is used. 

Brise soleil is cut out in the lower part at an angle and fixed in between the floor slabs to provide more view and daylight. 

BBVA Headquarters - Sheet1
BBVA Headquarters ©Rubén P. Bescós
BBVA Headquarters - Sheet2
BBVA Headquarters ©Rubén P. Bescós
BBVA Headquarters - Sheet3
BBVA Headquarters ©Rubén P. Bescós

7) Vitrahaus

Location: Weil am Rhein, Germany
Year: 2006-2009, realization 2007-2009

In 2006, Herzog & de Meuron were to design the VitraHaus since no interior space was free for the presentation of the Home Collection on the Vitra Campus in Weil am Rhein. Formed by a three-dimensional composition of twelve houses, VitraHaus’ primary purpose was to display the furniture by Vitra in a building that you would feel as if they were on their own. The exterior stucco has a charcoal appearance that unifies the structure with the landscape. 

The VitraHaus is a vertically oriented structure with a small footprint that rises above all the other buildings in the Vitra Campus and measures 187 feet in length, 177 feet in width, and 69.8 feet in height. It grants an overview of multiple senses and the Home Collection. 

Vitrahaus - Sheet1
Vitrahaus ©Iwan Baan
Vitrahaus - Sheet2
Vitrahaus ©Iwan Baan

8) Konzerthaus München

Location: Munich, Germany
Year: Competition 2016-2017

The shape of  Konzerthaus München seems classical like the 

the roof of a tent or the pyramid because it has a pure form and accommodates so many uses. You can view the large and small concert halls, the foyers and terraces. The spaces designed diversely to mimic the variety of visitors and users are very different in shape, scale and atmosphere: large and small, high and low, intimate, and open. 

The form of the project is iconic, and similarly, the large hall is radically modern. The music becomes the focus and radiates from the center while people congregate, seated together in a circle.

9) The Tate Modern Project

Location: London, UK
Year: Competition 2005, project 2005-2012, realization 2010-2016

The world’s most visited museum of modern and contemporary art is the Tate Museum. It intends to create a diverse collection of public spaces dedicated to recreation and retrospection. These spaces spread over the building have their vertical circulation in the same way that horizontal orientation is evident in the first phase of the Tate Modern.

The building is made such that it is visible from the North, as one approaches the Tate Modern from the river, rising behind the power station with the iconic chimney. The fundamental concept of the project was to integrate the new building with the existing urban fabric.

The Tate Modern Project - Sheet1
The Tate Modern Project ©Iwan Baan
The Tate Modern Project - Sheet2
The Tate Modern Project ©Iwan Baan
The Tate Modern Project - Sheet3
The Tate Modern Project ©Iwan Baan

10) Blavatnik School of Government

Location: Oxford, UK
Year: Project 2011-2013, realization 2013-2015

The idea of the project stems from shifted discs and pure geometric circles. The shifting in floor slabs creates projections and covered volumes. The main entrance is located in the middle of the Walton Street elevation classically, gathered underneath the main teaching floor of Level 1 whose circular geometry transformed resulting in such a shape. The foundation of this orthogonal form addresses the history set by continuing the line of the Church of St. Paul’s portico and echoing the well-formed path of the Oxford University Press.

Blavatnik School of Government - Sheet1
Blavatnik School of government ©Iwan Baan
Blavatnik School of Government - Sheet2
Blavatnik School of government ©Iwan Baan
Blavatnik School of Government - Sheet3
Blavatnik School of government ©Iwan Baan

11) Flinders Street Station

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Year: Competition 2012-2013

The Flinders Street Station is a unique and fundamentally public place: a civic stop with a distinct architectural character providing multiple activities. 

The concept draws from the site’s urban fabric, history location, and linearity. A seamless flow has been created with the new, improved concourses that make it easier to get in and out. The station becomes a destination rather than a place of a hurry.

Flinders Street Station - Sheet1
Flinders Street Station ©HASSELL + Herzog & de Meuron

Flinders Street Station - Sheet2

Flinders Street Station - Sheet3
Flinders Street Station ©HASSELL + Herzog & de Meuron

12) Dreispitz Nord

Location: Basel, Switzerland
Year: Competition 2017, project 2018-

The Dreispitz Nord project is a middle school for 600 students. It is on the roof of a shopping center, and other crucial parts of the masterplan consist of three residential towers, townhouses, and areas for car and bicycle parking. The school will have its own sports facilities. The athletic and recreation areas are such that they will extend only to a part of the entire field, with gardens and other outdoor spaces remaining accessible to residents and the public at all times.

“Now, the school will take on a central role in the masterplan of Dreispitz Nord, not only as an example of architectural densification but also exemplifying the mix of social and functional uses in the new neighborhood”, says Herzog & de Meuron.

Dreispitz Nord - Sheet1
Dreispitz Nord ©Herzog & de Meuron
Dreispitz Nord - Sheet2
Dreispitz Nord ©Herzog & de Meuron

13) Grand Canal Museum Complex

Location: Hangzhou, China
Year: Competition 2019, project 2020-

The project is a linear museum complex that reflects on the importance of the Hangzhou area in Chinese cultural and natural panoramas. The conversations between the water from the longest and oldest artificial lake and the museum illustrate the story of the Grand Canal. Its rippling facade resembles water. The core connects the curatorial programs- a conference center on the lower floors, a museum lobby in the middle, and restaurants and hotel on top, making it a flexible layout with 50,000 sqm of exhibition areas organized on two floors.

“Inspired by the Grand Canal itself, our proposal starts with a significant line. This bold line, recalling an elegant Chinese brushstroke, houses the museum telling the story of the Grand Canal. The water and the museum face each other, creating a visual and material dialogue between the subject and its narrator. The museum reflected the water and the water in the museum’s facade”, says Herzog & de Meuron.

Grand Canal Museum Complex - Sheet1
Grand Canal Museum ©Herzog & de Meuron
Grand Canal Museum Complex - Sheet2
Grand Canal Museum ©Herzog & de Meuron
Grand Canal Museum Complex - Sheet3
Grand Canal Museum ©Herzog & de Meuron

14) Beirut Terraces

Location: Beirut, Lebanon
Year: Project 2009-2012, realization 2012-2016

The project of Beirut Terraces is an unusual concept of rethinking skyscrapers and creating a vertical village which is composed of thin, elegant platforms layered in a whimsical formation. The architects brought an unprecedented way of living to crowded and dense Beirut by offering grand outdoor spaces, breathtaking views, and meticulously composed lofts.

On the lines of VitraHaus’ concept, “stacked” methodology is adopted for this project. It also has an intricate composition that allows apartments to range from 250sqm to 1050sqm and lavish terraces, ranging from 28sqm to 400sqm. The project has a sense of fluidity as well as a relationship to the greenery and the exterior spaces.

Beirut Terraces - Sheet1
Beirut Terraces ©Iwan Baan
Beirut Terraces - Sheet2
Beirut Terraces ©Iwan Baan

15) Elbphilharmonie Hamburg

Location: Hamburg, Germany
Year: Concept 2001, realization 2006-2016

Elbphilharmonie, the heart of the complex, comprises a philharmonic hall, a chamber music hall, restaurants, bars, a panorama terrace with views of Hamburg and the harbor. The two paradoxical architectures of the Kaispeicher and the Philharmonic come together to produce a breathtaking and varied spatial sequence. It is a residential and cultural complex and not just a site for music. The concert hall seats 2100, and the chamber music hall seats 550 listeners. There are luxury flats and a five-star hotel with built-in services such as restaurants, a health and fitness center, conference facilities. Hamburg city has a character of horizontality in the skyline, and Elbphilharmonie befits a landmark visible from afar, lending an entirely new vertical accent to the city. It has grown to become the new center of social, cultural and daily life for the people of Hamburg and visitors from all over the world.

Elbphilharmonie Hamburg - Sheet1
Elbphilharmonie Hamburg ©Iwan Baan
Elbphilharmonie Hamburg - Sheet2
Elbphilharmonie Hamburg ©Iwan Baan
Elbphilharmonie Hamburg - Sheet3
Elbphilharmonie Hamburg ©Iwan Baan

Yachika Sharma is an architect who recently graduated from Chandigarh College of Architecture. She has a profound passion for architecture, poetry, art and travelling. She believes that it is crucial to go on to an adventure to fathom a city and unravel the little subtleties of city life.

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